When setting up nucleus colonies for queen rearing or over-wintering, it is important to have sufficient bees of all ages to perform the necessary jobs for survival. We usually start out with frames of open brood, which are accompanied by nurse bees. We feed these young colonies pollen and syrup because they lack the foragers who would bring in the food sources. As the new queen mates and finally begins to populate the hive with her own daughters, the nurse bees mature and become foragers. Several weeks will pass before the queen’s own daughters are available to take over.
One queen might have the advantage of more emerging brood for support. At that time in the development of the colony, we evaluate the number of brood frames present. A queen that has fewer nurse bees will produce fewer eggs. We can help these queens by placing frames of emerging brood in with those lightly populated Nucs. Our goal is to have strong Nucs with enough young bees born late in the Fall to provide the cluster needed to maintain the heat during the winter, and begin brood rearing early in the Spring.